There are four celebrations during the mission. Most parishes schedule the celebration for the evening in the parish church. Some parishes schedule the celebration twice each day - one for those who prefer not to go out at night and the other in the evening when most people are home from work.
The focus of the first evening is God's covenant with us - a covenant signed in water and in blood. It is a covenant God made with all humanity in the blood of Christ - a covenant by which we - who once were far off have become near by the blood of Christ. (Ephesians 2:13) It is a personal covenant as well - for in the waters of baptism we enter into covenant with the God who calls us each by name.
We are invited to the water, to the place where we entered into covenant with the Almighty. We are invited to renew that covenant - to remember that Christ's blood flows in our veins and thus unites us not only to God but to one another.
Entrance Song and Procession
The procession is led by a cross and two candles. The Book of the Gospels is carried in next. Members of the local mission team are followed in by the pastor and the members of the preaching team. Generally, all of them are seated in the first few pews at the front of the church.
Sign of the Cross
Generally, the pastor begins the mission with the sign of the cross, greeting, introductions and welcome. After the opening prayer, one of the members of the preaching team presides, while another preaches and the third accompanies the children for their liturgy of the Word.
Introduction and Welcome
Dismissal of Children
The children are invited to gather for a special Liturgy of the Word designed specifically for them. One of the members of the preaching team accompanies them, shares the scriptures with them, and engages in some form of creative activity that helps them to understand that they are people of the covenant.
Reading I - Exodus 24:3-8
The parish musicians choose a responsorial setting of one of the following psalms:
Gospel - Luke 3:21-22, 4:1-2a, 13
One of the preachers prepares a presentation of fifteen to twenty minutes. It ends with a question which the members of the assembly are invited to reflect upon and share.
Members of the assembly are invited to form groups of three of four to share some of their answers to the question posed by the preachers. Two or three members of the assembly may be invited to share their reflections or insights with the rest of the assembly.
Return of the Children
The children who were earlier dismissed for the Children?s Liturgy of the Word are welcomed back to the assembly in order to participate in the ritual. When they return, they might be invited to share some of their experience with the adult community.
Blessing the Water
As water is poured into the font or into one or more large bowls the presider prays:
The presider invites the assembly to come forward to bless themselves with the water that has just been blessed.
Procession to the Water & Prayer over the People
Everyone in the assembly processes to the water and blesses themselves. They are encouraged to use the water lavishly. Several members of the local mission team might be standing near the water with towels to dry off the hands of those who have blessed themselves.
Sign of Peace
The presider invites the assembly to share a sign of peace with one another.
Members of the assembly are invited to the social afterwards, to come back for the next celebration and to bring a friend, and to consider becoming a sponsor with the Christian Foundation for Children and Aging.
On the first, second, and last evening of the parish mission, there is time for food and fellowship. If the mission takes place during Lent, the food should be rather simple in keeping with the spirit of the season.
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